Noise: A Novel
by Darin Bradley
Cover Artist: Design: David Stevenson; Calligraphy: Darin Bradley
Review by Steve Sawicki
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553386226
Date: 31 August 2010 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
It is the near future, when things have changed just enough. The change of television from airwaves to digital has freed those same airwaves and led to a boom of local broadcasting. A lot of what's on is called Salvage--an unorganized, collective of underground broadcasters sending out signals and advice--much of it to do with how to survive the coming end of thew world. In the small Texas, university town of Slade, Salvage is king. Each Salvage cast provides information in a slightly different way: some in code, others in parable, and it's all focused on very local conditions so Salvage from one part of the state or country may not be of much use in another.
Levi and Adam have been keeping track and making a book. The book contains everything they need to know and do when the end comes. And they figure the end is coming soon, so they plan to be as ready as they can. And then, it happens. Chaos comes and they have to put their plans into actions, which is always more difficult than imagined. But they have the book. And the book helps. A lot.
Darin Bradley has created a dystopian near future novel that works off a logical projection mixed in with some good old survivalist paranoia. There is no doubt that the characters in the novel find themselves in the middle of chaos. Whether that chaos has been triggered by Salvage or whether Salvage is to be the salvation of chaos is the real question. That, and the impact it's going to have on the two protagonists as they struggle to make, what up until very recently was only in writing, into reality. There is death and destruction and factions and a lack of authority but, then, this is also a college town. In the end it is unclear whether there is a real crisis or whether what is happening is just a paranoia triggered reaction.
The book is well written, focused and interesting. Bradley opens each chapter with a page or two from the Book that Adam and Levi have created. As the story plays out they use the book to guide their actions as they work to implement their survival plan. Bradley has done an excellent job of capturing things going to hell in a hand basket. His selection of a small Texas college town as a setting is near perfect as it provides just the right mix of isolation and intelligence to make the plot real. I think I might have enjoyed a bit more dialogue as the book contains a lot of narrative which does give it a very third person, told after the fact, kind of feel. It's a quibble though and I found myself really enjoying this rather grim view of how quickly it all falls apart.
A fun read if you like your futures dark.